Samburu National Reserve is located on the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River in Kenya; on the other side of the river is the Buffalo Springs National Reserve in Northern Kenya. It is 104 km² in size and 350 kilometres from Nairobi. Geographically, it is located in Samburu District of the Rift Valley Province.
In the middle of the reserve, the Uaso Nyiro flows through doum palm groves and thick riverine forests that provide water without which the game in the reserve could not survive in the arid country.
Samburu Reserve was one of the two areas in which conservationists George Adamson and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the Lioness made famous in the bestselling book and award winning movie Born Free.
Samburu National Reserve is located north of Nairobi, and was established in the 1970’s. Samburu Reserve is 40 square miles in size; temperature during the day is hot, but tends to cool during the night. This area of the region to this date is referred to as the Northern Frontier District because of the war in the 1960’s and early 70’s with the Somali people. Culturally, Northern Kenya has always had a strong influence of Somali, Oromo and Borana communities and tribes, who have lived as nomads in the area for many centuries.
Samburu National Reserve can be entered via the Ngare Mare and Buffalo Springs gates. Once inside the reserve, there are two mountains visible: Koitogor and Ololokwe. Samburu National Reserve is very peaceful and attracts animals because of Uaso Nyiro River (meaning “brown water” and pronounced U-aa-so-Nyee-ro) that runs through it and the mixture of acacia, riverine forest, thorn trees and grassland vegetation. The Uaso Nyiro flows from the Kenyan highlands and empties into the famous Lorian Swamp. The natural serenity that is evident here is due to its distance from industries and the inaccessibility of the reserve for many years.
There is a wide variety of animal and bird life seen at Samburu National Reserve. Several species are considered unique to the region, including its unique dry-country animal life: All three big cats can be found here, as well as elephant, buffalo and hippo, Gravy’s Zebra Beisa, Oryx Reticulated Giraffe and Somali Ostrich
Other mammals frequently seen in the park include:
- African Elephant
- African Buffalo
- Grant’s Gazelle
- Kirk’s Dik-dik
- African Leopard
- Rhino are no longer present in the park due to heavy poaching.
There are over 350 species of bird. These include:
- Marabou Stork
- Tawny Eagle
- Guinea fowl
- Palm-nut Vulture
The Uaso Nyiro River contains large numbers of Nile crocodile.
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